March 24, 2018

CVS Buying Aetna Insurance For $14 Billion

07 December 2017, 07:20 | Cesar Cruz

People walk by a CVS Pharmacy store in the Manhattan borough of New York City New York U.S

People walk by a CVS Pharmacy store in the Manhattan borough of New York City New York U.S

Using its significant retail footprint to deliver health care services also would give CVS a potent weapon in the fight against Amazon's encroachment into the pharmacy space, as the e-commerce behemoth has been reported to be considering. "Our combined company will be more competitive in the marketplace and accelerate progress toward achieving this mission", Bertolini said.

The second-largest USA drugstore chain is buying Aetna (AET), the third-largest health insurer, in a $69 billion deal in order to push much deeper into customer care.

CVS Health Corp's CVS.N proposed purchase of Aetna Inc AET.N will change the way many major US corporations buy health coverage for employees and raise new questions over the cost of those benefits, benefit consultants said. "They're expanding the retail clinics so they won't be quite urgent care, but they'll resemble a direct primary care facility".

The CVS-Aetna combination is enormous, but it's also the continuation of a trend toward insurance companies and health care providers getting together to offer integrated service, said Walid Gellad, a doctor and professor of health policy and management at the University of Pittsburgh.

CVS and Aetna also want to go beyond just clinic visits to help patients and customers.

Analysts have said the CVS-Aetna deal could prompt other healthcare sector mega-mergers, as rivals scramble to emulate the strategy.

The deal comes after Aetna's $37 billion plan to acquire smaller USA health insurance peer Humana (hum) was blocked in January by a US federal judge over antitrust concerns.

So if CVS-Aetna gets the green light from Washington, the way Americans get medical advice may drastically change over the next few years. "In fact, it's more than just a step to go from where they are to becoming a health care hub".

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CVS isn't the only health care giant delving into clinical care.

But advocacy groups have criticized the deal.

"Our conventional operating model is not effective", Bertolini said earlier this year. "It doesn't work effectively in controlling costs". The mammoth acquisition pairs a company that runs more than 9,700 drugstores and 1,100 walk-in clinics with an insurer covering around 22 million people.

The companies said that cost synergies in the second full year after the transaction closes-2020 if the deal closes in the second half of 2018 as they expect-would amount to $750 million. CVS Health Corp. will pay about $207 in cash and stock for each share of Aetna Inc.

But four antitrust experts said there is little doubt the deal will be approved, although it might need to meet conditions to convince antitrust enforcers to sign off.

The Justice Department said last month that it is suing AT&T to stop its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner.

Aetna shares were trading at $184.84 at 6:33 NY, well below CVS' $207-a-share offer for the company - a sign investors are skeptical the deal will close at the current price.

Meanwhile, deeper collaboration between Aetna's insurance business and CVS's PBM division could drive down drug costs by adding clients and boosting the PBM's leverage with drugmakers. Some of that business may have to be sold to address antitrust concerns.

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